Strecker's Giant Skipper - Megathymus streckeri
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 2.7-3.4 cm. Large. Uppersurface dark brown with a series of large whitish postmedian and apical spots, hindwing with long, erect hair-like scales, pale fringe and margin, no spotting; undersurface lighter gray-brown, the hindwing with a few scattered white spots.
One flight, May to June in most areas, April and May southward, mid-June to early July northward and at higher elevation (Scott 1986). Mid-May to early July (Glassberg 2001). May to July in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981). Late May to late July in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), June in western Nebraska (Dankert and Nagel 1988), mid-June to mid-July in North Dakota (McCabe and Post 1976).
Best determined by a combination of large size, dark uppersurface with a series of large whitish postmedian and apical spots, hindwing with pale fringe and margin, no spotting; undersurface of hindwing with a few scattered white spots.
Eastern Montana and western North Dakota south through western South Dakota, eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska, Colorado, to southern Texas, New Mexico, southwestern Kansas and adjacent Oklahoma, west to northwestern Arizona and southwestern Utah (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); 1311 m to 2560 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978). In Montana, reported from at least 17 counties east of the Rocky Mountains, west to Lewis and Clark County and Gallatin County (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), to at least 1341 m elevation. Rare to locally common (Glassberg 2001).
Shortgrass and mixed-grass prairie, sandhills, rocky bluffs, shrubland, pinyon-juniper woodland (Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar and includes badlands (FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database).
Limited information. Larval food plants are members of the Agavaceae, in particular several species of Yucca (Remington 1958; Wielgus and Stallings 1974; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992). Adult food habits not described; probably feeds on mud as do other Megathymus (Scott 2014).
Females lay eggs singly (generally) on the undersurface of leaves of small host plants. Eggs hatch in about 7-16 days, larvae migrate to basal rossette of leaves and burrow into host plant stem at or near ground level, feed on host plant stem material, construct no tents but live in burrow system within rhizomatous root, develop from L1 to L6 instar, overwinter as (mature?) larvae, pupate in silken tent (incorporating native soil and rock particles) up to 3.5 cm above soil surface under dead and dry leaf rosette or nearby. In captivity, adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in 18-25 days (Remington 1958; Wielgus and Stallings 1974; Scott 1979, 1986, 1992). Males perch throughout the day, sometimes patrol, near host plants on gravelly and sandy hillsides and flats awaiting or searching for passing females (Remington 1958; Scott 1975b, 1986).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Dankert, N.E. and H.G. Nagel. 1988. Butterflies of the Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 16:17-30.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- McCabe, T.L. and R.L. Post. 1976. North Dakota butterfly calendar (including possible strays). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 15:93-99.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Remington, C.L. 1958. Biological notes on Megathymus streckeri in Colorado (Hesperioidea). Lepidpterists' News 12:186-190.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 1992. Hostplant records for butterflies and skippers (mostly from Colorado) 1959-1992, with new life histories and notes on oviposition, immatures, and ecology. Papilio new series #6. 185 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Scott, J.A. and G.R. Scott. 1978. Ecology and distribution of the butterflies of southern central Colorado. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 17(2): 73-128.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Wielgus, R.S. and D.B. Stallings. 1974. The laboratory biology of Megathymus streckeri and Megathymus texanus texanus (Megathymidae) with associated field observations. Bulletin of the Allyn Museum 23:1-10.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
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